Rajnath Singh celebrates Holi with soldiers in Leh, says Ladakh India's 'capital of bravery'

Rajnath Singh celebrates Holi with soldiers in Leh, hails Ladakh as India's 'capital of bravery'
Rajnath Singh celebrates Holi with soldiers in Leh
Rajnath Singh celebrates Holi with soldiers in Leh

Leh | Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday celebrated Holi with Army jawans in Leh and lauded them for protecting the country from enemies while braving extreme weather conditions.

Singh was earlier supposed to celebrate Holi with soldiers in Siachen, the world's highest battlefield, but his visit was cancelled due to inclement weather. The minister was accompanied by Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande and General Officer Commanding, Fire and Fury Corps, Lt Gen Rashim Bali.

The defence minister applied tilak with 'gulal' on soldiers' foreheads. He also laid a wreath at the War Memorial here to pay tributes to soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty.

Addressing the soldiers after celebrating the festival of colours, Singh said Ladakh is the national capital of courage and bravery.

"Like we have the national capital in Delhi, the economic capital in Mumbai, and the technological capital in Bengaluru, Ladakh is India's capital of courage and bravery.

"When everyone wants to hide in their homes due to extreme weather conditions, you stand up to protect the country from its enemies with unwavering willpower," he said.

The country will always be indebted to the soldiers for their devotion and service. The commitment of the soldiers posted in high altitudes is much stronger than the sub-zero temperatures, the minister said.

"You are doing divine work. You are ready to fire at the enemy and take a bullet to your chest and it is due to this that the people of the country can celebrate Holi peacefully," he said.

"I feel that all of you, while protecting us from the enemies, are no less than protector gods for us," he told the soldiers.

Singh reiterated the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government's commitment to the welfare of the armed forces and their families.

"It is our duty to take care of you, your children and parents. Our government is always working for the forces of the country with the same zeal with which you are working for this country," he said.

When he took over as the defence minister five years ago, Singh said, he visited Siachen first.

"Today, it was not possible to go to Siachen due to bad weather. Therefore, I wish a happy Holi to all soldiers deployed there," he said, adding that playing Holi with jawans is one of the happiest moments for him.

"We all know that there is a tradition in our country that whenever there is any auspicious occasion, we start it by worshipping our beloved God. Even when we have a feast, it is offered to God first.

"The first lamp of Diwali, the first colour of Holi, all this should be in the name of our protectors, our soldiers. Festivals should first be celebrated at the snowy peaks of Siachen and Kargil, on sandy plains of Rajasthan and with the Navy personnel aboard the submarine in the depths of the Indian Ocean," the defence minister said.

Singh urged the Chiefs of the three services to start a new tradition of beginning celebrations with soldiers a day before a festival.

"Such celebrations should become an integral part of our culture," he said.

Later, Singh spoke with soldiers in Siachen over the phone and extended Holi greetings to them.

He told them that he would soon visit Siachen and interact with them.

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